The name Bimini is got from the island of bimini in the Bahamas where these type of tops were first used by local boaters to protect them from the sun and rain.
Bimini tops for pontoon boats make a huge difference in your comfort while you’re boating. No-one likes to get caught in a downpour or in scorching sunshine. Fortunately, a sturdy pontoon top will protect you from both direct sunlight and also keep you out of the rain. They can be easily opened on the boat in just a few minutes and fold almost flat for easy storage, which is also helpful when you’re transporting your pontoon or actually want to enjoy the sunshine! So if you want to spruce up your pontoon boat to give it that stylish and luxurious look while staying dry and cool, a bimini top for your pontoon boat is the answer.
Which is the best pontoon bimini top for you?
Consider four things to get a good quality bimini top, the frame, the hardware, the construction and above all the fabric.
Bimini top frames…
Bimini tops for pontoon boats are measured according to length from 5 to 8 feet. Popular sizes are 88-96 and 97-102. There are also universal fit bimini’s which fit a wide range of boat sizes. You should easily be able to find a bimini top for your pontoon by just measuring it at the halfway point of your boat (the widest point), which is where you’ll put the mounting brackets, and from the bow to the stern down the middle of the boat to get the length. The larger the bimini, the greater the number of supports it will need. The supports are called “bows”, hence bimini’s are sold as 2-bow, 3-bow or 4-bow, depending on the size. If you have an unusual size pontoon, you can get custom made bimini tops.
The frames are generally made of anodised aluminum and are usually one inch thick square, to match the frame of most pontoons. Some frames are stainless steel, which is more expensive but will last a lifetime. Pontoon Bimini Tops are usually very easy to assemble and attach to your pontoon. Imagine building a tent and then attaching it to your boat using screws… it’s not rocket science! Be sure to buy a Bimini top which comes with nylon fittings, mounting hardware, front tension straps, rear support poles, and matching storage boot so that you don’t have to buy those as separate accessories. Also consider whether or not you’ll want a bimini top with a partition to be used as a changing room. The partition can be installed anywhere under your bimini top and fastened with straps and hardware. The partition is made from 100% polyester, is UV resistant and has a full length, zipper for easy access. Check the warranty of the bimini top before you buy it. The least you should expect is one year, but it’s best to get one with a three or five year warranty.
The most popular fabrics used for bimini tops are..
Cotton Duck which is a canvas-like material (like tote bags) is the cheapest option but won’t last as long as the others because they aren’t UV resistant, may leak and can be subject to dry rot.
Vinyl bimini’s are the most popular choice because they don’t leak, are easy to clean and allow the water to just run off. Vinyl bimini’s come in a variety of colors and are low maintenance due to being UV and mildew resistant.
“Solution dyed” polyester bimini’s are very strong, stretch resistant, come in a variety of colors, are more water repellent and scratch resistant than acrylics, good value and resist fading caused by UV light well
Acrylic, the most well known brand of which is Sunbrella, looks and feels great, is exceptionally durable and comes in a variety of colours but can sag and leak over time).
We recommend getting a buggy-style bimini top for your pontoon in either vinyl or acrylic from Basspro, complete with all the installation accessories including a one-inch aluminum frame and fixings, from Basspro. They come in a variety of colors (white, blue, burgundy, green, gray, red, teal, tan, aqua, navy and black), are made in the USA and come with a manufacturers warranty.
As TomV from Illinois said, i bought this top over a year ago and it still looks good. it was easy to install and take care of. it is easy to open up and to put it down. i can cast out to catch the big ones even with the top up and troll also. this was a great addition to my pontoon and a very good value for the money. try it you will like it.